Arkansas governor signs executive order to begin statewide police task force

Updated: Jun. 9, 2020 at 11:06 AM CDT
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (WMC/KAIT) - Following more than a week of across the country, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced he would sign an executive order Tuesday creating a police task force.

Hutchinson said Monday during his daily COVID-19 briefing that he made the decision after meeting with several “protest leaders and young leaders across the state.”

The governor said task force will involve police training, certification and standards.

Hutchinson said the reason for the task force is to review policy, study and analyze policies of de-certification, community policing, hiring and retention of law enforcement officers, recommended means of “enhancing the trust of law enforcement.”

During the news conference, Hutchinson said there is no agenda item on defunding police units, and he believes everyone can debate where funding goes within departments.

“This is not to take away from law enforcement, but to enhance law enforcement," said Hutchinson.

The task force includes Blytheville Mayor James Sanders.

They will have a report due by Dec. 31, 2020.

“The trust of law enforcement has been undermined in light of George Floyd’s death," said Hutchinson. “This will be a dynamic task force and will listen to the community and the needs of law enforcement.”

The governor says the topic of using a choke-hold as a legal practice in the state of Arkansas, is something the task force can look at discussing. There is currently no law banning the use of choke-holds in Arkansas.

Law enforcement standards were brought into rule 45 years ago and have not been updated, according to Hutchinson.

“Just because we’ve been doing this since 1978 doesn’t mean it’s right or we can’t do things better,” said Hutchinson.

The move comes a day after Hutchinson deactivated the National Guard which he mobilized last week in response to protests over the death of George Floyd.

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